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Stephon Marbury proclaims Dukes Zion Williamson’way better than LeBron’

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People are really excited about Zion Williamson. The high-flying, rim-rattling and highlight machine who doubles as a Duke freshman is a top-five player in the 2018 recruiting class and a likely top pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He’s fantastically good. He’s got college basketball fans champing at the bit to finally see him in action.

No one, though, might be as bullish (or delusional) regarding the 6-foot-7 phenom than former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, apparently.

He’s got Williamson as better than LeBron James.

That’s 14-time All-Star, four-time MVP and three-time NBA champ LeBron James. The guy generally regarded to be the best player in the world’s best league for about the last decade or so. And maybe the best ever to play the game.

“Zion is way better than LeBron. It’s not even close,” Marbury proclaimed on Instagram Live over the weekend. “He hasn’t played one pro game. He don’t have to touch a ball, that’s how nice he is. He doesn’t’ have to touch a basketball, and he’s better than LeBron James.”

It would appear that a 13-year NBA career and a wildly successful run in China hasn’t made Marbury much of a talent evaluator. Sure, Williamson is really, really good, but to even talk about him being better than maybe the best player of all time before he’s played a college game, well, I feel like I don’t need to point out what the high-degree of dumb that is. 

“Only Zion has the opportunity to be better than Michael Jordan,” Marbury said. “Zion is going to destroy the whole planet. Remember that I told you that.”

It’ll be hard to forget.

Top-50 recruit Samuell Williamson pledges to Louisville

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An already strong recruiting class just got a little more muscle for Louisville.

Samuell Williamson, a top-50 wing in the 2019 class, committed to the Cardinals on Monday, he announced via social media.

“So many  people have helped me on this journey but I want to specifically thank my trainers, coach Beau Archibald, coach Rodney Elder and Terrell Harris for pushing me and helping me get to this point!” Williamson wrote. “Lastly I want to thank every coach and university that took the time to recruit me!”

Williamson, a 6-foot-6 forward,  averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists this past summer on the EYBL circuit.

Williamson’s decision comes after he used all five of his official visits this fall, picking the Cardinals after taking trips to Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Kansas, along with Louisville, in the last two months.

The Rockwall, Texas native becomes the third member – and third four-star prospect – of Chris Mack’s first true recruiting class in the Bluegrass state. He joins guard Josh Nickelberry of North Carolina and forward Jaeyln of Ohio, both top-100 players, in Louisville’s 2019 class.

It’s clear that while Mack has landed a major, five-star, sure-fire one-and-done recruit in his short time with Louisville, the Cardinals’ recruiting isn’t having a major fall off in the wake of a drumbeat of scandals that have hit campus, most recently in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that spurred Louisville to terminate Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.

After Arizona landed a five-star guard last week and USC’s success on the trail, there doesn’t seem to be much of any recruiting fallout for schools that were initially embroiled in the corruption scandal. Not exactly a great look for a sport that’s made a big deal about trying to clean up a sport – even if few were buying it.

Former NBA guard and Georgia Tech great Kenny Anderson to coach NAIA program

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former NBA all-star guard Kenny Anderson is taking over as the head coach at NAIA program Fisk University.

Fisk announced on its verified Twitter account Monday that Anderson had been hired to coach at the Nashville-based school.

The The 47-year-old Anderson played for several NBA teams from 1991-2005. He made the 1994 NBA All-Star Game while playing for the New Jersey Nets, who selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1991 draft.

He posted career averages of 12.6 points and 6.1 assists.

Anderson also starred for Georgia Tech’s 1990 Final Four team, and scored 26 points per game en route to first-team All-American honors as a sophomore in 1991.

He becomes the second former NBA All-Star to get hired to coach a Tennessee-based college program this year. Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was hired in March to coach at Memphis, where he played from 1991-93.

Jim Boheim calls five-star Darius Bazley’s decision to skip Syracuse a ‘mistake’

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Jim Boeheim never has a problem speaking his mind. Whether it’s rebuking the FBI investigation into college basketball or opining on Donald Trump, the Syracuse coach has no trouble speaking candidly.

The latest subject is Darius Bazley, the one-time five-star Syracuse commit who opted to skip college for the G League before ultimately later deciding to skip the NBA’s minor league for a year to workout by himself.

“I mean, he made a mistake. It doesn’t do any good to talk about it,” Boeheim told Syracuse.com. “Everybody thinks I’m criticizing him. I’m not. I’m just telling it like it is. He made a mistake. He should own it. He’s just not ready. He’s just not physical. They’re not letting him play in the G League because he’d get killed.”

It’s not often a coach will speak like that about a player, even if it’s one that a coach may feel burned his program. It’s blunt and direct. It also may not be the whole story.

But it’s most likely right – at least from a purely basketball standpoint.

There is a legitimate conversation to be had about the merits of playing college ball vs. suiting up in the G League for prospects’ developments, but I doubt you’ll find many that would be advocating for simply taking a year off from competitive hoops when other avenues are available.

Players can work on their game behind closed doors, but that’s going to have limited value come draft day. It’s simply going to be hard for professional franchises to evaluate what kind of progress Bazley’s made when they can’t measure him against his peers. Seeing him in an empty gym going against practice players makes for a much less valuable evaluation environment than, say, watching Bazley go up against the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and the rest of what the ACC has to offer night-in and night-out for three-straight months.

It also seems more likely that such a situation would be better for Bazley to find success than even the G League would offer. With the Orange, Bazley would be going against players, essentially, his own age with, essentially, similar developmental arcs. In the G League, the 6-foot-9, 200 pounder would be tasked with going against players with multiple years in the professional ranks. One of those situations seems more likely to produce advantageous results than the other for an 18-year-old with a slight build and without a slam-dunk NBA future.

So, to call Bazley’s decision to skip Syracuse for an option he eventually decided not to pursue a “mistake” seems in bounds. He picked the G League over the Orange only to then find that option not quite as desirable as originally thought. 

But that’s probably also not fully fair to Bazley. If he decided he simply didn’t want to pursue the student-athlete path – and all that entails (to whatever degree) – even if it cost him on the floor and on draft boards, that’s his decision. So often in this one-and-done era, players get slammed for simply going through the motions in their semester-plus on campus when they have no desire to be there other than to hoop. Seems unfair to criticize a player who decides against doing that, too.

Bazley’s decision to forego Syracuse looks like one that will hurt his professional prospects in the short-term. Maybe it will in the long-term, too, but there are plenty of paths to the pros. Bazley set out to blaze one trail, but maybe he’ll ultimately find another.

VIDEO: Rick Pitino joins Dan Patrick Show to discuss legacy and time at Louisville

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Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino joined the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning as he discussed his legacy, his time at Louisville and some of the things he’s been involved in since he was fired from coaching the Cardinals.

Recently releasing a book telling his side of the story against Louisville and the NCAA, Pitino discussed allegations that he spoke to adidas executive Jim Gatto on the phone. Pitino maintains that two of the alleged calls were voicemails.

Pitino also says that the NCAA only suspended him five games for his misconduct at Louisville, as he believes that he would be banned from college coaching had he knew more about what happened under his watch.

The video checks in at little more than seven minutes and gives an interesting insight into Pitino’s time away from coaching and his plans to sue to restore his name.

 

Witness says he lied about Josh Pastner sexual harassment allegations

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A lawsuit filed in February by Jennifer Pendley and her fiancée Ron Bell that alleged Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner sexually harassed Pendley took another hit Monday, as it was reported that a key witness has recanted his initial statement backing up the couple’s claim.

According to Caitlin Schmidt of the Arizona Daily Star, security guard Christopher Meegan recanted his statement that he saw Pastner grab Pendley inappropriately inside Georgia Tech’s basketball arena in November 2016. Meegan is now saying that he was offered money by Pendley and Bell to fabricate the story, per the report.

This development comes less than three months after Georgia Tech conducted its own investigation into the matter and cleared Pastner of any wrongdoing.

At one point in time Pastner and Bell were friends while the former was an assistant at Arizona. But the two had a falling out, which led to Bell stating that he provided impermissible benefits to then-Georgia Tech players Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie. Both players missed time during the 2016-17 season as a result of Bell’s statements.

In early July it was reported that phone conversations between Pendley and Bell — who was incarcerated at the time of the calls — intimated that their allegations that Pastner harassed Pendley had been fabricated.